Connect with us


Todd Gilliland Reflects on Start of Rookie Season

(Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

After spending five seasons in the Camping World Truck Series, Todd Gilliland is finally a NASCAR Cup Series driver. He’s starting to find his footing in Cup, but it’s not without challenges.

Gilliland, 21, has made all five starts with two top-20 finishes. He sits 29th out of 32 full-time Cup drivers in points, notably above Christopher Bell and fellow rookie Harrison Burton. He placed 33rd in the Daytona 500 after a crash and faced his first major roadblock a week later at Auto Club Speedway.

Despite a 20th place finish, Gilliland’s No. 38 car lost a wheel after an early-race pitstop. His crew chief, Seth Barbour, and two other crew members were suspended for four races under sections of the rulebook. Barbour and the other members began serving the suspension Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway after an appeal was lost.

“It’s definitely never a good thing, especially being a rookie trying to work with my crew chief for the first time,” Gilliland said in a media call. “It gets frustrating at times just because you don’t get answers as fast as you would like to, and then as far as the severity of the penalty, obviously I think we’re kind of biased to it, but we think it’s a little bit too much for us.”

Gilliland finished the west coast swing with finishes of 23rd and 19th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway, respectively, before Atlanta last weekend. With the new superspeedway-style racing at Atlanta, Gilliland caused a late crash and finished 27th.

“I definitely feel super, super dumb about that,” he said. “I guess it was a lack of communication and a lack of me asking what I should do. I’ve never really gotten lapped super quick like that, especially at a superspeedway type place. It’s probably the worst possible scenario.

“As soon as I moved up and I saw the 34 stay on the bottom I knew I had screwed up pretty big. I should have asked. I feel really really bad about making myself look dumb, first off, by making the pack split us. I’ve been on the other side of it and it’s super, super frustrating when lapped cars do that, so I feel bad about it.”

Todd Gilliland races Greg Biffle in the Dayton 500. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

But, overall, Gilliland is satisfied with how his Cup career has started.

“Through the first five races, I’m actually kind of happy with how it’s been going,” he said. “Last week I feel it went really bad, probably as bad as possible for me, but before that, I feel like we’ve been staying out of trouble and feel like I’ve been racing good cars, good drivers and I feel like gaining their respect for the most part.”

This weekend, Gilliland heads to Circuit of The Americas, the site of his lone Truck Series win in 2021. He said he enjoys road course racing and is looking forward to the challenge ahead.

“The Next Gen car is just gonna be challenging in general on the road course,” he said. “I think we’re going back with a little bit softer tire or even maybe the same as last year and last year we wore out tires like crazy fast in practice when it was in the dry, so hopefully that’s not as bad as the tire wear last year.”

Teams only tested the Next Gen car once last October at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, which was early in the testing process. However, Front Row Motorsports never attended the test.

“I think it puts us at a bit of a disadvantage just not ever having one on the road course, just to know some little things,” he said. “I think not being there, we’re trying to say that it’s maybe not as big of a disadvantage because the rules have changed, but I think certainly going to the road course this weekend we’d all wish that Front Row would have been at that test back then to at least have a little bit of a notebook.”

The EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix is Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.


Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in NASCAR